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Columnist discovers that old people have lightning bolts in their eyes
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Did you know that when you are old you will probably have lightening bolts in your eyes? How come you never told me that? - photo by Steve Eaton
When you get old, lightning bolts go around your eyes. They dont shoot out at people; that would be cool. They just start flashing around in your eyeball like you are suddenly discovering that you are actually some sort of android thats starting to short circuit in its old age.

Apparently, everyone else knows this. Somehow you all kept it from me.

If I get a rash on my knee or an ingrown toenail, my first assumption is that it is a brain tumor. I dont know why but I figure it has to be a brain tumor.

So you can imagine what I thought when one night I suddenly realized there were lightning bolts flashing in a circular motion around my right eye, followed by a splotch on my field of vision like I get on my glasses when I get too excited about drinking chocolate milk. I was sure this had to be a brain tumor.

I have a friend who is an eye doctor and he came into his office on his day off to examine me. Its a good thing that he is a patient person who has giant colored charts of eyeballs in his office because if he hadnt explained what his diagnosis was, I could have been even more alarmed. I might have worried that my backside was going to fall off.

The name of this non-brain-tumor affliction is posterior vitreous detachment. (Doesnt that sound like something that means your padded part will fall off if you celebrate a victory with too much gusto?)

My doctor said what was happening with my eye is common among old people, which apparently is what Im becoming at 58. That brings me back to my original sticking point.

Did you know this? Did everyone know this and keep it from me? How come no one ever said to me, I guess Im just getting old. My joints are sore and I feel like Ive got some posterior detachment going on.

No one ever said that, and it makes me wonder what else people are keeping from me.

Its not like Ive been clueless on all of lifes mysteries. Ive figured out some important things early in life. You know how your parents tell you that you can be anything you want to be? Lots of us believe that until we meet that incompetent boss who says he thinks you should be unemployed.

When my mom told me that, I was quite excited and I gave it some serious thought.

You want to be a drive-in movie screen? she said slowly.

Yeah, then I can see all the movies I want for free, I said cheerfully, as if I had just decided on my major for college.

You cant be a drive-in movie screen, she said with that tone that made me think she wanted to return me to the manufacturer.

I was crestfallen but figured there must be exceptions to every rule. It was not long after that I decided what I really wanted to be was a telephone pole.

When she told me that I could never grow up to be a telephone pole, I began to realize that it wasnt really true that I could be anything I wanted to be.

I still believe in some silly things. For example, I believe in the presidents State of the Union Address.

Did you hear that Barb? Ill say with hope to my wife, regardless of whether its a Democrat or Republican speaking. He says that we should rise above partisan politics and work together for the benefit of the country. This is awesome!

Then she adopts that same tone my mother used to get because, apparently, the possibility of our elected leaders working together for the benefit of the country is about as likely as me realizing my dream of becoming a telephone pole.

So, maybe, I cant even believe in things said in an official presidential address.

I have more important things to think about. I now have lightning bolts in my eye. I guess that would explain why old people dont like loud rock and roll and why they insist on inside voices in the house. They need to simplify and keep things quiet. Theyve got a regular fireworks show going on in their head and they cant even talk about it, for crying out loud. We should be nice to them.

You should be nice to me.

Yes, I know, its not that bad. This new life-long affliction is excessively mild compared to some of the harsh things some of my friends already deal with. I have friends who listen to talk radio every day and probably wont be able to stop until they die. I just wish someone would have told me this up front.

Son, always remember that you can be nearly anything you want to be as long as it is not a drive-in movie screen, a telephone pole or a non-partisan senator. And no matter how good or bad your life goes, some day you can look forward to having lightning bolts in your eyes.

Here, let me sprinkle some chocolate milk on your glasses. It will help you prepare for old age.
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